In a series of interviews with The New Yorker, Peter Lanza, father of Newtown, Ct., shooter Adam, writer Andrew Solomon...
Jails and prisons are beginning to sign up inmates for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, taking advantage of the expansion of Medicaid that allows states to extend coverage to single and childless adults, who are a major part of the prison population, the New York Times reports. State and counties are enrolling inmates for two main reasons. Although Medicaid does not cover standard health care for inmates, it can pay for their hospital stays beyond 24 hours, meaning states can transfer millions of dollars of obligations to the federal government. The most important benefit, corrections officials say, is that inmates who are enrolled in Medicaid while in jail or prison can have coverage after they get out.
People released from jail or prison have disproportionately high rates of chronic diseases like mental illness and addictive disorders. Few have insurance, and many would qualify for Medicaid under the income test for the program — 138 percent of the poverty line — in the 25 states that have e expanded their programs. Experts estimate that up to 35 percent of those newly eligible for Medicaid under the Obama health care law are people with histories of criminal justice system involvement, including inmates and those on parole or probation. “There can be little doubt that it would be controversial if it was widely understood that a substantial proportion of the Medicaid expansion that taxpayers are funding would be directed toward convicted criminals,” said Avik Roy of the Manhattan Institute, a conservative policy group.
Attorney General Eric Holder, declaring heroin addiction is an "urgent and growing public health crisis,'' urged first...
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is considering a new system for deciding which jail inmates get released early by making predictions about who is most likely to commit new crimes, says the Los Angeles Times. It would be a significant shift for the largest U.S. jail system, which determines when inmates are released by the seriousness of their most recent offense and the percentage of the sentence they've served.
Officials say the system has weaknesses because it does not take into account the inmate's full record, including serious crimes that occurred years ago. Supporters argue the change would help select inmates for early release who are less likely to commit new crimes. It might also raise some eyebrows. An older offender convicted of a single serious crime, such as child molestation, might be labeled lower-risk than a younger inmate with numerous property and drug convictions. A risk-based release system is "the smart way to do it," said interim Sheriff John Scott. "I think the percentage (system) leaves a lot to be desired.)
Last Oct. 15, a medical technician spotted David Gillian, an inmate in California's Pleasant Valley State Prison, hanging from a bedsheet tied to an air vent. The tech said, “We need to cut him down, we need to do CPR,” the tech told the sergeant, who refused, and the body was left hanging for four hours, says the Sacramento Bee, citing a confidential corrections department report. The incident is at least the second in recent months of disputes between medical staffers and guards over when a cell door should be opened to provide emergency medical care and assistance to an inmate.
“This is outrageous, it actually defies the human race,” said Donald Specter of the Prison Law Office, which has been fighting through the courts to improve conditions for inmates for 35 years. “And the reason for it makes no sense. It’s a crime scene in a single ... cell? How can that be? All this was a clear violation of the department’s suicide and attempted suicide policies. The first priority is supposed to be save the life, not preserve a crime scene, even if there is one."
Indianapolis drug experts say heroin use has swelled over the past two years, leading to a troubling number of overdoses and deaths unlike anything the city has seen in more than a decade, reports the Indianapolis Star. The spike came suddenly, spotted by emergency medical technicians who noticed last year they were responding to more runs related to heroin and its sister sedatives, prescription opioids such OxyContin, Codeine and Percocet. “I’ve been in this system for almost 15 years. I have not seen as much heroin in my career as I’ve seen in the last two years,” said Scott Campbell of the Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services department.
About 630 times last year, EMS crews arrived fast enough to inject the patients with a powerful antidote called naloxone. The drug can reverse a heroin or prescription opioid overdose almost instantaneously. Often an overdose is fatal. Last year, 110 people died in Indianapolis from a fatal heroin overdose, a number that has doubled over the past threeyears. The U.S. Government Accountability Office traces the painkiller boom back to 1995, when the Food and Drug Administration approved a controlled-release pain pill called OxyContin in response to complaints that patients with cancer and other chronic diseases were not getting the pain relief they needed.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), was a leading figure in the defeat of Debo Adegbile, President Obama’s nominee to lead the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. Toomey said he supported the principle that even the worst criminals deserve a fair defense, but that "Adegbile very actively participated in this mockery of our justice system."
Toomey and the Fraternal Order of Police lobbied other senators with evidence that Adegbile went beyond legal work by leading a “campaign to discredit our justice system” in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer. The vote was controversial, with Adegbile supporters saying he was defeated just because he defended an unpopular client. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) called the vote "the lowest point that I think the Senate has descended into in my 30 years here."
Texas Gov. Rick Perry appeared alongside other conservatives, including Grover Norquist, at the Conservative Political...
The U.S. Border Patrol has restricted agents' authority to shoot at moving vehicles or at people throwing rocks, changing a controversial policy that has contributed to at least 19 deaths since 2010, the Los Angeles Times reports. Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher directed agents not to stop in front of moving vehicles, nor to use their bodies to block them, in order to fire at drivers. He barred shooting at vehicles whose occupants are fleeing from agents. A deadly threat that would justify use of force does not "include a moving vehicle merely fleeing from agents," the new rule says.
Fisher also ordered agents to seek cover or move away from rock throwers if possible and not to shoot at them unless a rock or other object poses an imminent danger of death or serious injury. The new rules would bring the Border Patrol's practices closer to those used by the nation's major urban police departments. They are a response, in part, to widespread complaints from immigrant advocates that border agents have shot and killed people when deadly force was not necessary to protect the lives of agents or the public. The Times reported earlier that the Border Patrol's parent agency commissioned experts to review 67 shooting incidents that left 19 people dead along the U.S.-Mexico border in 2010, 2011, and 2012.
TCR at a Glance
q & a March 10, 2014
The director of an Oscar-nominated film about a WW2 vet who spent his final days in a prison hospice discusses his documentary in an excl...
March 7, 2014
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth are twice as likely as their straight peers to be detained for a variety of off...
March 6, 2014
Apathy and cynicism about politicians, fed in part by an anti-government political culture, is making it harder to combat corruption and ...
March 5, 2014
The White House proposal emphasizes criminal justice reform, but an election year budget fight means no proposal is guaranteed to pass
new & notable March 4, 2014
A Canadian Press report details the expensive burden of violent crime, particularly on victims
q & a March 3, 2014
Rutgers criminologist Todd Clear believes the “relentless punitive spirit” of America’s incarceration policies is final...
February 28, 2014
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers released yesterday three tutorial videos for journalists seeking to cover the crimin...